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Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier:

Quick-thinking student nurses save ailing baby By AMIE STEFFEN, Courier Staff Writer CEDAR FALLS — A few days ago, 11-week-old Wesley Hoffman was on the floor of a Village Inn restaurant, cold, gray and unresponsive. He wasn’t breathing. He had no pulse for minutes. His mother, Leah Hoffman, was fearing the worst for her young son. Was it too late? What would she tell her husband, Charles? Now, Wesley and his mom are back at home in Des Moines, and everything seems back to normal. “He is smiling and cooing. He just smiles and smiles — no laughing yet, but he’s really close,” she said from her Des Moines home. “It’s like it didn’t even happen, and he’s even more happy.” But the situation is still very much in the minds of several Cedar Valley residents who were at the Cedar Falls Village Inn Saturday afternoon, many of whom watched in horror as a baby who had been fussy and alert just minutes earlier suddenly fell silent. The culprit seems to be a bout of gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux, which has plagued Wesley his entire life. Hoffman believes the baby choked on milk while having an episode of acid reflux and the two compounded to block his windpipe. It happened while Hoffman was out to lunch with friends, passing Wesley around and breastfeeding him under a blanket. Wesley would latch on, then let go, and didn’t seem to be consistently feeding. Hoffman thought he was simply falling asleep, and pulled up the blanket to look at him. When she noticed blood on the baby’s face and on herself, she thought she must be bleeding and asked a friend, Laura Potter of Cedar Falls, to go with her to the bathroom to check it out. “Her face — I could tell something was wrong,” Potter said. But when they got to the restroom, they quickly realized Wesley was unresponsive. “It was like there was no life in him,” Hoffman said. “And Laura said, ‘Is he breathing?’ and I put my head up to his mouth and said no, he was not breathing. It was like he was gone.” Hoffman began screaming and Potter ran outside to the restaurant, asking for someone to call 911 and pleading for a doctor. Across the restaurant, two Kaplan University nursing students who had been taking a break from studying for their finals for some carrot cake noticed the commotion. Marta Espinoza and Kellie Leasure, both of Cedar Falls, had come in on a whim after studying for hours at the Cedar Falls Public Library. After waiting a few seconds to see if any actual doctors came forward, they quickly decided their skills were needed, though they didn’t know what for. Both Leasure and Espinoza said they figured an older person was in cardiac arrest, before they saw the limp, lifeless newborn. “There was this little, 6-pound baby, white as a ghost,” Leasure said. “It was slow motion for us.” Leasure noted Wesley was past the point of cyanosis, which is when the body turns blue because of a lack of oxygen in the blood. Espinoza said the baby had no pulse, and instructed Leasure to begin cardiopulminary resuscitation, or CPR. “The universe took over. I was so afraid — he was so fragile and so little. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, no way, he’s so past the point,” Leasure said. “But I never questioned not responding or not helping.” Another friend, Catherine Potter of Cedar Falls, noticed the two looked uncertain. “You could tell they were scared,” she said. “But they got down on the floor and started doing CPR.” Potter was on the phone with police dispatchers while Hoffman reportedly screamed. Restaurant patrons were either in shock, running to nearby businesses to find a doctor, or simply praying. “It was like my worst nightmare happening,” Hoffman said. After 31 chest compressions, Leasure finally heard Wesley sputter. Espinoza turned the baby over and began patting his back, trying to drain the mucus and blood from his airway. Cedar Falls police officer Kimm Froning, the first public safety officer at the scene after the 911 call was made, assisted the students in attempting to revive the baby with back blows. It is the third time Froning has been called to resuscitate an individual, Police Chief Jeff Olson said. “Shortly after that he let out a wail, and the whole restaurant started clapping and burst into tears,” Laura Potter said. Paramedics whisked Wesley away to Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls and he was later transferred to Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. Though he had been without a pulse for minutes, Wesley didn’t seem to have severe after-effects and doctors initially didn’t believe the family’s story. Once Espinoza and Leasure came by to check on Wesley and confirmed he had been without a pulse for minutes, Hoffman was finally able to convince the hospital staff. “The doctor ... said if that had happened the way I described it, there was no way (Wesley) would be in the condition he was in,” Hoffman said. “He owes his life to these women.” The nurses are modest about their role. “I’m just so happy the baby came through this and he’s doing fine,” Espinoza, originally from West Palm Beach, Fla., said. Leasure said she hopes events like this can convince people it’s a good idea to get certified in CPR, and said people shouldn’t be scared of coming forward if they know how to help. “The bottom line is it could have been any of us — you just have to act,” she said. “Understand CPR and know you can do it.” Contact the writer at (319) 291-1464 or


Kaplan College paper:

Cedar Falls Students Save Infant Nursing Students in 2nd Term (Summary) Kaplan Kudos to Kaplan University – Cedar Falls nursing students Kellie Leasure and Marta Espinosa for saving the life of an infant at a local restaurant. (Body) Kaplan University – Cedar Falls students Kellie Leasure and Marta Espinosa were at the right place and the right time when an infant became ill at a local restaurant. The two jumped into action and used CPR to save the baby’s life. “A friend of mine was dining at Village Inn when her baby went into respiratory distress,” said Angela Vincent, a new instructor at the campus. “When she yelled for someone to call 911, two patrons identified themselves as nursing students and offered to help. They performed CPR on this 10-week-old baby who was not breathing, pale, and limp. The baby came around and began to pink up well before the ambulance arrived. I believe these students saved this baby's life.” Pamela Young, Director of Nursing at the campus, said the second-term students are exceptional. “Kellie is also a work study student. Kellie is a leader in her classes. She has an academic background and Marta has experience in working with emergencies. When the pressure was on, they knew what to do.” Pamela added that CPR is taught in orientation before the students officially begin classes. Kellie’s story “Marta and I headed to Village Inn for dessert after studying for finals at the Cedar Falls Library. When we arrived we noticed a baby, about 5 lbs, crying. About 10 minutes after we arrived, a waitress was scurrying around asking if anyone new CPR. We said we were nursing students and had been trained.” “Marta grabbed her mouth cover from her purse and we both dashed expecting to see an old man on the floor. We were shocked to see the baby on the floor outside the restroom not breathing. He looked like a doll. Marta immediately checked for his pulse and commanded me to begin chest compressions. His airway was full of blood and mucus.We did not pick the baby up because he was bleeding from his nose and mouth and we weren't sure if he had a neck or spinal injury. After 2 rounds of CPR, he had a pulse and we picked him up, stabilizing his head while Marta rhythmically patted his back as he struggled to breathe.” “As she did this, we pleaded for the customers to run out in the mall parking lot and scream for a doctor while we waited for the paramedics. Finally, a doctor came running as the police arrived and they handed the baby to the paramedics. Marta timed that we had waited more than 5 minutes for help to arrive. It was shocking to see how many people were present that did not know CPR.” “We went to the emergency room and they said he was crying and that we had done everything right for him. If we had been one minute later it would have been too late. I am still shaking. I am so proud to have been beside Marta for this experience. She is a rock. Boy, she was controlled and critically thinking on her toes. There was a bystander who kept trying to help but was not trained. She kept moving in trying to blow breaths at the baby and Marta handled her in a way I couldn't. She kept me on track counting and took over the priorities.” “At Kaplan, we are taught to be appropriately assertive and to exercise critical thinking and good judgment. Bottom line is we are dealing with life and death. Today, you can be proud of your students for the choices we made to help this baby. This is a testament to the nursing program at Kaplan University.”

Charlie Schiz

Charlie Schiz
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. I've been weird all my life. It's my time to shine.

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